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ResourcesResearch IntegrityLearning lessons from the Paolo Macchiarini case – Horizons (Matthias Egger | December 2018)

Australasian Human Research Ethics Consultancy Services Pty Ltd (AHRECS)

Learning lessons from the Paolo Macchiarini case – Horizons (Matthias Egger | December 2018)

Published/Released on December 06, 2018 | Posted by Admin on February 23, 2019 / , , , , , ,
 


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Independent bodies – not universities – should investigate suspicions of scientific misconduct, says Matthias Egger.

I was sitting next to Agneta Bladh, the chair of the Swedish Research Council, when the conversation over dinner turned to the case of Paolo Macchiarini. You may have heard of the Swiss-born, Italian ‘star surgeon’, who after several investigations was found guilty of scientific misconduct in June 2018 and dismissed from the Karolinska Institutet near Stockholm.

Food for thought for those of us who reside in countries (e.g. Australia and New Zealand) where universities/research institutions conduct their own research misconduct investigations (with the perceived conflicts of interest that raises)

Briefly, Macchiarini had become famous in regenerative medicine for using synthetic scaffolds seeded with patients’ stem cells in trachea transplants. The Lancet, which published several of his papers, praised him as someone who crosses frontiers to innovate, ominously citing the poet T. S. Eliot: “only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go”.
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The story makes sobering reading. All three patients who received a transplant in Sweden died. Macchiarini was cleared of research misconduct in 2015, with The Lancet defending him in an editorial. Events came to a head a year later after the nationwide screening of a series (‘The Experiments’) by filmmaker Bosse Lindquist, which provoked a massive response and a crisis of confidence at the Karolinska Institutet. A slew of resignations followed: the Vice-Chancellor, the dean of research and the chair of the university board, and investigations were re-opened. In June 2018, the University found Macchiarini and six others guilty of scientific misconduct, and The Lancet retracted two of his papers.
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